The Kentucky Derby is more than just a race — it’s a long-standing tradition, as well as an excellent excuse to party. Even if you can’t travel all the way to Churchill Downs, you can still celebrate the 2018 Kentucky Derby by watching the race on TV on Saturday, May 5th. Don’t want to leave your swanky vacation rental? Throw your own party! Don’t want to worry about post-celebration clean up? Head to one of these 10 amazing and fun-filled Kentucky Derby parties. Off to the races!
1. Santa Anita Park – Arcadia, California
Okay, Santa Anita Park isn’t just a bar, but how could we make a list of places to celebrate the Kentucky Derby without including at least one race track? If you’ve never been to the races, Santa Anita Park is perfect for first-timers. It offers some of the most prominent racing events in the United States, and with its backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains, it’s also considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful race tracks. Santa Anita Park is home to some of its own prestigious races including the Santa Anita Derby and the Santa Anita Handicap, and back in its heyday, it attracted some of Hollywood’s biggest stars like Betty Grable, Lana Turner, and Cary Grant. If you’re coming here on May 5th, enjoy the live racing by placing your bets. Then, head to the Chandelier Room to watch the Kentucky Derby.
2. Manhattan Country Club – Manhattan Beach, California
Break out your fancy hats and dresses and get ready to sip some mint juleps and champagne. The Manhattan Derby Kentucky Derby Viewing Gala at the Manhattan Beach Country Club spares no expense. Enjoy live derby style music at this upscale country club and watch the races on ten LED TV’s throughout the club. Tickets for the champagne brunch are a little bit extra, but it’s more than worth going all out for this posh event. If you’re traveling here from out of town, you could stay in nearby Los Angeles, but Manhattan Beach offers gorgeous, ocean-front vacation rentals. Since you’re living it up, you might as well go all out!
3. Tavern on Fourth – Louisville, Kentucky
Experience the Kentucky Derby at its best at the Kentucky Derby Launch Party hosted by StubHub Live. This party features an open bar stocked with plenty of premium bourbon and other spirits as well as an all-you-can-eat menu with dishes created by an all-star chef. There will also be music provided by a celebrity DJ, so forget that Derby hat and let your hair down. You’re going to want to party all night long!
4. Will Rogers Polo Club – Los Angeles, California
Will Rogers Polo Club’s DerbyDayLA brings the “South” to Southern California with the ultimate Kentucky Derby experience. This viewing party features a premium open bar and craft cocktails, live music and race coverage, celebrity red carpet and polo matches. Come dressed to impress because there are also best-dressed awards! Tickets are on sale now, and you don’t even have to feel guilty about it because a portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit local horse charities.
5. Saxon+Parole – New York City, New York
What better place to celebrate the Kentucky Derby than one that’s named after two horse races? Saxon+Parole on the Bowery has horse racing in its DNA, so it naturally throws one heck of a Derby party. Enjoy unlimited mint juleps, prosecco, and beer while you nibble on small bites from the kitchen.
6. Bar Car – Denver, Colorado
The cover for this party at Bar Car in Denver is only $5. While it’s not as swanky as some of the other parties on this list, it’s the place to go if you just want to have a good time. The party takes place in the parking lot next to the bar and features two bands, a projection screen TV showing the race, a pizza-eating contest, and a hat competition. There are also carnival games and a photo booth to raise money for Team-in-Training, the fundraising arm of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The bar itself is open at 1 p.m., an hour before the party, so you get grab a pre-party drink.
7. Paramour – Wayne, Pennsylvania
Come to Paramour’s annual Kentucky Derby Party in your finest Derby attire. A few lucky ladies and gents can take home the title of “Best Dressed” along with gift certificate prizes for first, second, and third place! If you don’t take home the prize, you’ll still have a great time. Sip mint juleps on the veranda along with assorted hors d’oeuvres prepared by the executive chef which included Prosciutto & Truffled Mascarpone wrapped Grissini and Tuna & Tomato Tartare Spring Rolls last year. To watch the race, you can gather around one of the TV’s in the lobby lounge, bistro bar, or out on the veranda.
8. Tavern on Rush – Chicago, Illinois
Looking for a bar in the midwest to don your Southern apparel and extravagant Derby hats? Look no further than Tavern on Rush. For their best-dressed contest, they give away a $500 Tavern on Rush gift card to the first place winner! Second place winner gets a bottle of Dom Perignon. Prizes are awarded immediately after the race, which will be shown in the bar with sound so you can hear every bit of commentary and clomping hooves. While you’re there, take advantage of the food specials as well as $5 mint juleps all day long.
9. General’s Residence – San Francisco, California
Celebrate America’s oldest continuous sporting event at the historic General’s Residence in Fort Mason. Featuring views of Aquatic Park, Alcatraz, and the far reaches of San Francisco Bay, you’ll have plenty to look at after the “two minute race” is over. The hosted bar features mint juleps and savory tradition southern food, and there’s also sporting lawn games, an auction, and a prize raffle. Since this year’s race falls on May 5th, there will also be some special treats so you can celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Traditional Derby attire is strongly encouraged as prizes are awarded for best dressed and most creative.
10. Turf Paradise – Scottsdale, Arizona
The Derby DayClub at Tuft Paradise is Arizona’s only Kentucky Derby Party with live racing, on-site gambling and Polo Party-style tents for a unique and upscale way to enjoy the Kentucky Derby. While there are many Kentucky Derby parties in Arizona, there is none quite like this one. Here, you can sit in the shade, right on the rail near the finish line, with horses galloping by just feet from your tent. Each year, around 10,000 people come to Turf Paradise for the biggest day in horse racing, but you can buy tickets for exclusive access to two VIP tents, as well as a new Hefeweizen & Craft Beer Garden, two DJs, food by Chef Eddie Matney and a front-row seat as thoroughbreds run by every 30 minutes, pausing only for the running of the Kentucky Derby.
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